Scope and Contents
The Charles M. Kurtz papers measure 27.74 linear feet and date from 1843 to 1990 with the bulk of the material dating from 1884 to 1909. The bulk of the collection consists of chronological correspondence between Kurtz and his family, most notably his wife, friends, colleagues, and business associates. Kurtz's letters are amazingly detailed and document many notable exhibitions, galleries, museums, private collections, as well as cities, people, and events of the period. The letters between Kurtz and his wife are most interesting for their descriptive commentary on late 19th century life and offer a complete picture of Kurtz's activities. Many of Kurtz's letters to Halsey C. Ives can be found in the Halsey C. Ives Papers. Some of the letters in the collection are illustrated. Also found in the collection are Kurtz's diaries, scrapbooks, printed materials, and photographs.
For many years, the Kurtz Papers were thought to have been destroyed in a fire. Isabel Kurtz, a school teacher who lived with her older sister in Buffalo, New York, was vague when initially approached about her father's papers by Archives Regional Director, Robert Brown in the mid-1980s. However upon her death in 1991, her will revealed that the papers were indeed in her house in Buffalo and the bulk of them were bequeathed to the Archives of American Art. Paintings and a diary relating to the Glasgow School were given to the Yale Center for British Art. That diary has subsequently been duplicated on microfilm and is now also available in the Archives. Scorch marks on some of the papers and also on the paintings given to Yale suggest that there was indeed a fire. The material that was not bequeathed to the Archives included duplicates of printed documents along with books from the Kurtz library and a coin collection, all of which were dispersed in an estate auction that was held in Buffalo in 1991.
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming (reel 4912) including Charles Kurtz's Glasgow painting diary. The loaned diary was returned to the lender and can now be found at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut. This material is not described in the collection container inventory.
The St. Louis Exposition/Halsey C. Ives papers in the Archives of American Art contain material relating to Charles M. Kurtz.
Additional Charles Kurtz papers, 1870-1910, including 340 letters which discuss exhibitions, sales of art, patronage, atelier visits, and submissions to publications, and letters to his parents in which he discsses the art market and art world new; as well as manuscripts, notebooks, a diary, and printed ephemera relating to exhibitions and publications, are available at the Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Los Angeles, California.
Glass plate negatives in this collection were digitized in 2019 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.
The collection was processed and the finding aid written by Arleen Pancza-Graham in 1996. The finding aid was modified during EAD conversion by Stephanie Ashley in 2002. Glass plate negatives were re-housed in 2015 with a grant provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.